That explains everything in the life of the great prophets. It explains the life of Moses, the prophet whom the Lord God raised up from among his brethren (Deut. 18:15, 18). Moses essayed to take up his life-work. He was a man of tremendous abilities, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22), with great natural qualifications and gifts, and then somehow he got some conception of a life-work for God. It was quite true; it was a true conception, a right idea; he was very honest, there was no question at all about his motives; but he essayed to take up that work on the basis of what he was naturally, with his own ability, qualifications and zeal, and on that basis disaster was allowed to come upon the whole thing.
Not so are prophets made; not so can the prophetic office be exercised. Moses must go into the wilderness and for forty years be emptied out, until there is nothing left of all that as a basis upon which he can have confidence to do the work of God or fulfill any Divine commission. He was by nature a man "mighty in his words and works"; and yet now he says, "I am not eloquent .. I am slow of speech ..." (Exodus 4:10). There has been a tremendous undercutting of all natural facility and resource, and I do not think that Moses was merely disagreeable in his reply to God. He did not say in effect, 'You would not allow me to do it then, so I will not do it now.' I think he was a man who was under the Divine discipline and yet on top of it. A man who is really under things and who has become petulant does not respond to little opportunities of helping people. We get a glimpse of Moses at the beginning of his time in the wilderness (Exodus 2:16, 17) which suggests that he was not of that kind. When there was difficulty at the well, over the watering of the flocks, if Moses had been in a bad mood, cantankerous, disagreeable because the Lord had not seemed to stand by him in Egypt, he probably would have sat somewhere apart and looked on and done nothing to help. But he went readily to help, in a good spirit, doing all he could. He was on top of his trial. Little things indicate where a man is.
We go through times of trial and test under the hand of God, and it is so easy to get into that frame of mind which says in effect, 'The Lord does not want us, He need not have us!' We let everything go, we do not care about anything; we have gone down under our trials and we are rendered useless. I do not believe the Lord ever comes to a person like that to take them up. Elijah, dispirited, fled to the wilderness, and to a cave in the mountains; but he had to get somewhere else before the Lord could do anything with him. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9). The Lord never comes to a man and recommissions him when he is in despair. 'God shall forgive thee all but thy despair' (F.W.H. Meyers) - because despair is lost faith in God, and God can never do anything with one who has lost faith.
Moses was emptied to the last drop, and yet he was not angry or disagreeable with God. What was the Lord doing? He was making a prophet. Beforehand, the man would have taken up an office, he would have made the prophetic function serve him, he would have used it. There was no inward, vital relationship between the man and the work that he was to do; they were two separate things; the work was objective to the man. At the end of forty years in the wilderness he is in a state for this to become subjective; something has been done. There has been brought about a state which makes the man fit to be a living expression of the Divine thought. He has been emptied of his own thoughts to make room for God's thoughts; he has been emptied of his own strength, that all the energy should be of God.
Is not that perhaps the meaning of the fire and the bush that was not consumed/ It is a parable, maybe a larger parable, but I think in the immediate application it was saying something to Moses. 'Moses, you are a very frail creature, a common bush of the desert, a bit of ordinary humanity, nothing at all of resource in yourself; but there is a resource, which can carry you on and on, and you can be maintained, without being consumed, by an energy that is not your own - the Spirit of God, the energy of God.' That was the great lesson this prophet had to learn. 'I cannot!' 'All right', said the Lord, 'but I AM.'
A great deal is made of the natural side of many of the Lord's servants, and usually with tragic results. A lot is made of Paul. 'What a great man Paul was naturally, what intellect he had, what training, what tremendous abilities!' That may all be true, but ask Paul what value it was to him when he was right up against a spiritual situation. He will cry, "Who is sufficient for these things? ... Our sufficiency is from God' (2 Corinthians 2:16: 3:5). Paul was taken through experiences where he, like Moses, despaired of life. He said, "We ... had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:9).
(continued with # 1 - "A Message Inwrought By Actual Experience")
[Thank God! I just was able to figure out how to get back to this blog using the old, s-l-o-w computer I am using until I get the regular computer fixed!]